From Indonesia to the United States. From South America to Europe, repression is increasing everywhere. But there is no need for us to turn a blind eye to repression or to acknowledge it and be discouraged from resisting the state and other repressive mechanisms.
However, we must admit to ourselves that we live in a world where surveillance is increasing, fascism is on the rise and growing within the police, and we need to be organized in order to face the growing threat. We can count on capital being well prepared and trying with all its power to crush even the smallest spark of resistance that is lit. A while ago, we published a text by the International Anarchist Defense Fund, a relatively newly started anarchist solidarity fund. Here comes a more in-depth interview with the collective behind the anarchist fund.
How did the project start?
The project is the result of a discussion on solidarity structures among people concerned with repression issues. Back then one of them has been part of decision-making crew of the International Antifascist Defense Fund for few years, and the support structure seemed simple and efficient. An idea of replicating this Fund specifically for anarchists appeared and was supported by a few comrades. Still, we were not enough to start a proper collective, so we issued a call for people to join the future collective. Thus, we got some more trusted comrades and started working on collective processes, security and the actual concent of the A-Fund. In February 2018, the Fund went public and has been operating since then.
Why do you feel there was a need for a project like this?
We felt that we need to facilitate a better distibution of financial resources for tackling repression on the international level. It's common knowledge that there are some regions where solidarity structures and local funds exist for a long time and are able to cover all kinds of expenses connected with repression (legal costs, help to families, etc.), while in other places there is little or no tradition of these structures and the resources of the movement are insufficient. It's quite difficult for people or groups from this places to receive international financial support without having contacts abroad. The Fund is an attempt to change this and to offer fairly equal access to international cash to people with less resources. But this doesn't mean that people from richer countries cannot apply.
Another difference of the Fund from regular solidarity ctructures is an opportunity of direct involvement of the donors to the distribution of the money they donate. Anyone who donates 20 or more euros annually, joins the decision-making crew that considers all requests received by the Fund. This, in our opinion, makes the Fund less alienating than giving money anonymously at some event and relying on some other people to make decision about where the money goes. The latter donation process is also important, but we offer something more than that. The participation is not mandatory though, anyone is free to unsubscribe from the list.
Why is this project any different from for example ABC?
So, our Fund is not a competitor of existing solidarity and antirepression structures, but rather a complementary option. As mentioned above, the collective behind the A-Fund doesn't have any powers of distributing the money, this is done by donors. At the same time, A-Fund doesn't claim to be a group that offers a long-term support or legal advice, like many ABC groups do. We only offer one-time financial help and some informational support. Unlike most solidarity groups, we are totally transparent in our expenses - on our site you will find accounts on all our transactions. At the same time, the information about the current amount of the Fund is available to decision-making crew for security reasons.
Also, upon request from the applicant, we can keep the transaction to them secret or anonymous.
How do you evaluate incoming requests, and how do you decide which to assign funds to?
Every request is first checked by the admin of the email account, just basic check if the situation really happened and the person in whose name the request is filed has really suffered. Then the request is forwarded to the list of decision-makers (people who donated money to the Fund), where the request is discussed for one week. If there are not objections, the decision is passed with concensus, and we send 10% of the current amount of the Fund to the applicant. If there are objections, the next week is dedicated to a simple majority vote, and then the decision is taken based on the option that got the most votes. Thus, any decision takes no more than 2 weeks, which is convenient both for the applicant and the decision-makers. The rule is to send 10% from the Fund's money, but decision-makers can suggest to send more or less money, which can also become a decision through the same vote process.
The comments sent over the list are anonymised, only the admin knows who sent which comment, people don't know who else is subscribed to the list.
Giving 10% means that there will always be money in the Fund, because even if you have 1 euro, you still have money left after subtracting 10% and so on.
How has the response been so far? Do you get many requests? Which parts of the world?
The fund has founded about 15 requests and donated around 3000 euros in total. Of course, all new structures need some time to get things going and received some trust from comrades. For many people it may seem like a project that will collapse after a year and the collective will dissappear with all the money. So it's ok that people are cautious. We work on getting more vouchers among the ABC community with which we have close connections. Also, we were not able to get so much donations, so for the moment we can only offer minor support. But we are planning to work more on advertising the Fund and reach out to more people and groups that can make donations.
So far we have received requests from for instance Russia, Indonesia, France, USA and Canada.
Do you have any suggestion for platforms to use for recurring payments, that are not paypal?
We understand the unwillingness to use bank tranfers for donations, because this deanonymises the donors. We also accept donations via Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, and at the moment we are thinking through an idea of having donation boxes in activist spaces around the world. Please follow the news about that on our website.
What can one do to support this project?
For the moment, we need volunteers who will help to spread the word about our project in their local communities. We want to compile a list of anarchist groups, of anarchist magazines, websites, spaces that we can address and ask for distributing our flyers, putting a banner on their website or an ad in their magazine or newspaper, etc. We are loking for people who can hepl us create such a database for their region or city.
People and collectives are also invited to donate and join our decision-making crew, to organise benefits, install donation boxes, and so on.
If you can make a presentation about the A-Fund in your town, this is awesome, too!
Also, refer people in need to apply to the A-Fund.
If you have an idea of how to help spread the information about the Fund or attract donations, feel free to write us to firstname.lastname@example.org
For more details visit our website A-fund